Apparently this character has been dubbed the character of the year (2018):

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It's pronunciation is said to be:


but a lot of people claim it should just be pronounced the same as:

I can't find this character in the dictionary. What is it? Where did it come from?

  • 2
    qiou is not even a legal pinyin syllable Dec 6, 2018 at 9:15
  • ha I really hope that these newly coined characters could be easily typed. I like the feeling that character set is expanding(๑>؂<๑) Dec 6, 2018 at 11:38
  • Maybe, the character is newly coined, but 'qiu' or 'qiou' already existed in the northeast dialect very long time ago. We never know how to write it out, or there isn't such a character at all originally. I guess someone found it's funny and they invented a character, based off its meaning, for it then.
    – dan
    Dec 6, 2018 at 11:46
  • By the way, 'qiou' has several meanings, not just 穷 and 丑. For example, 别一天竟qiou在家里啊! meaning 别天天都在家里呆着。
    – dan
    Dec 6, 2018 at 11:53
  • I've never seen this. So i am a rut now…
    – xbh
    Dec 6, 2018 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


The character is made up for a dialectical word qiǔ.

Constructed as「⿱穷土」, the definition is dirt-poor (「穷」到吃「土」), and the prescribed reading qiou is a Fanqie-like combination of 「穷」(qiong, poor) and「丑」(chou, awkward, messed-up, ugly), because the bottom of the character resembles「丑」.

The reading「我」(I, me) is a further joke:


(Self-deprecatingly) What is dirt poor or both poor and ugly? ME!

The word qiǔ may be written using a real character「糗」(congealed, used to describe cooked grain food like rice porridge or wheat noodles that's been left out for too long). It is said that the modern uses of qiǔ is derived from the original meaning via semantic extension:

  • 「糗」(rice or noodles that's been left out too long) > 「呆」(idle, dazed)

  • 「糗」(congealed food that's no longer suitable to eat) > 「醜」(ugly, unpleasant)

See the baidu reference. However, this may be folk etymology.



A new Chinese character, invented by netizens, has become massively popular on social media this week - especially among self-mocking millennials. According to Shanghaiist, the character 'qiou' is a combination of three characters - 'qiong', meaning poor, 'chou', meaning ugly, and 'tu', meaning earth. Taken together, the character essentially means "poor as dirt and ugly."

You can see this so call character as '穷' overlap 土 (imply 'dirt poor' )

  • The lower part of '穷' is '力'

  • '力' overlap 土 is 丑, therefore the whole thing not only imply 'dirt poor', it also imply 'dirt poor and ugly'

The reading is the mix of 穷 and 丑

穷 /qiong2/

丑 /chou3/

reading of 我 is a joke: 写作'穷丑' 读作 '我' (written as '穷丑' read as '我') = "I am the definition of poor and ugly"

Since 穷 is a simplified character, the origin of this made-up character should be Mainland China.

You can't find it in dictionary because it is not a real character.

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